With just more than a month to go for the new Premier League season to kick-off, it’s time to look forward and build-up to it. Today, we look at the top 7 teenagers (under-20 years of age) to keep an eye on in the upcoming Premier League season.
1. ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN – ARSENAL
‘The Ox’ joined Arsenal from Southampton last season and was very impressive in his debut season in Premier League. The 18-year-old made 26 appearances for the Gunners during the last campaign and scored four times. His performances in the league caught the eye of the new England boss Roy Hodgson and was picked for the Euros in Poland/Ukraine. The winger, who started his country’s opening game against France, has been capped five times by the Three Lions.
The 18-year-old has a lot of pace and his direct attacking style has been already loved by Arsenal faithful. Chamberlain broke into the first team last season and he is expected to stay there & play an important role for Arsene Wenger’s team this season, who love to give the teenagers a chance to prove themselves.
2. NICK POWELL – MANCHESTER UNITED
Powell joined Manchester United from Crewe Alexandra this summer for a transfer fee believed to be in the region of £4m. The 18-year-old caught the eye of many top Premier League clubs with his impressive displays for the League Two side as he played an important role in helping Crewe win the playoffs. The England U-18 international made a total of 38 appearances last season scoring 14 goals including the winning goal in the nPower League Two Play-Offs final at the Wembley.
Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed in the press conference yesterday that he would be developing the teenager in center midfield role and with United having many problems in that position over the past couple of years, Powell could get his chances this season. The attacking midfielder is certain to feature in most of the Capital One Cup games and FA Cup games this year.
3. ROMELU LUKAKU – CHELSEA
Lukaku moved to Stamford Bridge last season from Belgium side Anderlecht for a fee around £18m. The 19-year-old, who is dubbed as the ‘next Didier Drogba’, was tipped for big things last year but he hardly got a chance to impress. The Belgium international, who has been capped 14 times by his country, made just eight Premier League appearances and failed to score a single goal.
The former Anderletcht striker was one of the flop signings of last year, but with both Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba having left the club and with just Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge ahead of him in the pecking order, this might well be the year where the teenager may get the chance to impress at the bigger stage.
4. ROSS BARKLEY – EVERTON
Barkley has been the part of Everton’s successful youth academy and has come through the ranks at Goodison Park. The 18-year-old has been at the fringes of the senior team ever since signing the professional contract at the start of the last season. The England U-21 international has made a total of six appearances for Toffees – mostly from the bench – in the Premier League since making his debut against QPR in the opening game of last season.
The midfielder, who has been predicted to ‘become one of the best ever player to play for England’ by Martin Keown, is expected to get much more game time this season than what he got last season. With a lower budget to spend in the tranfer market, David Moyes is certain to give Barkley and many other young players a chance to play in the first team.
5. JOSH McEACHRAN – CHELSEA
The creative midfielder, who is the product of Chelsea’s youth academy, is heralded as the future of the Blues. McEachran made his first team debut for the Blues in a Champions League match against MSK Zilina in September 2010 and ever since has been around the senior team making a total of 22 appearances in all competitions. The 19-year-old, who is touted as the natural successor to Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge, spent the second half of last season on loan at Swansea.
The England U-21 international, who has the talent and potential in him to become one of England’s best midfielder in future is expected to spend next season away on loan at a Premier League side where he might get some more first team football than at Chelsea, due to the competition for a place in the starting XI at the Stamford Bridge club.
6. CONNOR WICKHAM – SUNDERLAND
Sunderland signed Wickham last summer from the Championsip side Ipswich for a fee of £8m. The 19-year-old was tipped for big things but his first season in the Premier League was a bad one. He was able to find the back of the net just once in 15 appearances as the Black Cats struggled without the services of Danny Welbeck, Darrent Bent and Asamoah Gyan, who were all present during the 2010-11 season.
This season is going to be the make-or-break for the England U-21 international has he will need to get over his ‘first-season blues’ and repay the club’s faith in him. Sunderland’s number 10 is expected to play an important role this season and he will have to score much more than what he did last season, if the Black Cats have to challenge for a place in Europe next season.
7. RYO MIYAICHI – ARSENAL
Miyaichi joined Arsenal in the summer of 2010 after impressing the scouts and the boss during a High School Soccer Tournament in Japan. The 19-year-old has featured only twice for Gunners since his arrival and that to in the Capital One Cup. The Japanese international was sent on loan to Bolton Wanderers in the January transfer window last season and he had a very successful time at the Reebok, making 12 appearances and was also voted as the club’s February Player of the Month.
With Andrey Arshavin expected to leave the club in the summer, Miyaichi may get a chance on the wings but at the same time he will face competition from the likes of Gervinho, Alex Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and the new signing Lukas Podolski for playing time. It looks likely that he will be sent on loan to another Premier League side again this season, where he will get some regular first team football.